Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: The Gravedigger's Brawl by Abigail Roux

The Gravedigger’s Brawl by Abigail Roux
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance with Paranormal Elements The Gravediggers Brawl Cover
eBook ISBN: 9781937551636
Print ISBN: 9781937551537
Buy it here: Riptide Publishing

Dr. Wyatt Case is more in his element putting together a new museum exhibit than hanging out at a bar, but when his best friend needs a wingman, Wyatt can’t say no. As it turns out, Gravedigger’s Tavern isn’t your average bar. And it isn’t the history of the gaslight-style pub that captures Wyatt’s attention, but Gravedigger’s bartender, Ash Lucroix. With his easy smile and phenomenal collection of tongue rings, Ash isn’t the kind of man Wyatt would normally go for. But there’s an undeniable pull of attraction between the quirky, sociable Ash and the quieter Wyatt.

Before Ash and Wyatt’s newfound relationship has a chance to really begin, strange things begin happening at Gravedigger’s. Spooky noises, faulty wiring, and a ghostly presence begin to make Ash feel like he’s losing his mind. Is he imagining things? Or is there an evil presence haunting him? It’s up to Ash, Wyatt, and their friends to find out the truth before the haunted happenings cost them everything they hold dear.

Out of all the paranormal entities in literature, the ones I least enjoy reading about are ghosts. However, I’d heard many good things about Abigail Roux’s writing and I was so intrigued by the blurb for The Gravedigger’s Brawl that I had to pick it up.

I’m so glad I did.

The Gravedigger’s Brawl is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year! It’s charming, sensual, evocative, and wildly addictive; immediately upon finishing I wanted to read it again. Ash and Wyatt are two wonderfully developed heroes who quickly found their way into my heart. Wyatt is shy and uncertain of himself outside an academic setting at times. Ms. Roux made him human rather than cardboard perfect, and Wyatt comes with all the foibles a real person would have. He makes mistakes and hurts Ash, but not out of cruelty or carelessness. What’s more, he owns up to his mistakes and is truly the perfect man for Ash. Ash, in turn, is a hero with flair, and I’m not just talking about his bartending skills. He’s got an aura of likeability about him, one that Ms. Roux somehow manages to make transcend the page. Like Wyatt, Ash is interesting, which is probably the best thing I can say about a character. I love it when I’m fascinated by a character because of their personality, rather than a special skill or superhuman ability.

As individuals, Ash and Wyatt are great characters. As a pair? I find myself at a loss for words; just thinking about their love story makes me smile. The dynamic between Ash and Wyatt creates sparks and when they hit the bedroom The Gravedigger’s Brawl just explodes with heat.

Rounding out the main cast of The Gravedigger’s Brawl are Ash’s friends and fellow Gravediggers, Caleb, Ryan, and Delilah, along with Wyatt’s best friend, Noah. The secondary love story between Caleb and Noah is surprisingly sweet and every bit as romantic as Ash and Wyatt’s. The friendship between all the characters was as vital to the story of The Gravedigger’s Brawl as the romances. There’s life, humor, and wit in the byplay between the main characters, and even the simplest of scenes shine because of this. Ms. Roux made me care about everyone in the story and because I cared, I was invested in the book and could not put it down.

Twining through the romance of The Gravedigger’s Brawl is a spooky mystery that, I admit, had me startling at sounds I heard in the dead of night. I won’t say too much about the non-romance aspects of The Gravedigger’s Brawl, for that’ll ruin some of the fun for readers. I will say that Ms. Roux doesn’t cross the line into horror (a relief to someone as chicken about ghosts as I am), so the spectral sightings are often atmospheric. The paranormal elements are woven in brilliantly with both factual and fictional history, giving the spookier elements of The Gravedigger’s Brawl grounding in an imagined reality.

There are many reasons I adored The Gravedigger’s Brawl, but I fear this review would be far too long if I listed them all. Before The Gravedigger’s Brawl I hadn’t read any of Ms. Roux’s work, but consider me a new fan! With its hauntings, humor, and a happily ever after worth sighing over, The Gravedigger’s Brawl has it all. So what are you waiting for? Pick up The Gravedigger’s Brawl today!